Every brand team we speak to wants to be ‘more innovative’. They want to find that “10% idea”, win awards at Cannes and to play with the latest technology. 

One challenge we see in meeting this ambition is that brand teams are often bogged down in the day-to-day and therefore need support in seeing the bigger picture with regards to new, differentiated ways in which to connect with customers. 

This is where we come in. Our innovation practice – named NowLab – helps brands foster a culture of innovation. It is our space (both digital and physical) to make, experiment, prototype and workshop innovative business solutions for our clients. 

Through our work running innovation projects for some of the world’s leading brands, we’ve identified three barriers that brands often stumble at when thinking about innovation. 



Starting with Technology First


With experience technology – from Unreal Engine to Google’s Dialogflow – providing a canvas for brands to build differentiated experiences, we’ve seen ecommerce, digital and marketing executives looking to invest. 

One of the pitfalls we often see, however, is that many start thinking about the technology first, instead of the challenge, or specific customer pain point.“We need a chatbot… something with Alexa” is never a good briefing to your team or creative agency.

We spend time with brands helping them to not think about technology, but rather the "challenge area" that their business is facing where innovation may have the biggest impact.

Once framed, we use insight and research available to narrow down the "challenge area" into a clearer brief for ideation.

Predicting the success of an idea is harder than ever. The better you understand and the more you learn about the challenge you’re trying to solve, the faster the ultimate implementation will be.


Going Too Big Too Soon


Innovation is a (calculated) risk; anything new and different is. What we often see is brands wanting to develop a full solution from the get-go without involving any research or testing of concepts with consumers, raising the risk profile of a project.

There are ways in which brands can minimise the risk, however. One such approach is prototyping. Prototyping is a crucial part of our design process. We use prototypes to test early iterations of a concept or experience.

Beyond validating, the act of prototyping itself provides us with the opportunity to add craft in animation and advanced interactions.

Prototypes are great to sell new ideas to clients, drive buy-in from stakeholders and inspire companies towards radical new ways of thinking and doing.



Cross Team Collaboration 


What we’ve seen is that sometimes those running innovation projects can be overprotective of the work. The most successful projects we’ve supported brands on have been a success in part because internal teams (media, digital, marketing,ecommerce, CRM) have worked in harmony, aligned around a solid set of objectives. 

Our advice; engage a broad set of stakeholders from the beginning to get the necessary buy-in, especially those in more senior roles. 

Your senior stakeholders will want to see a solid business case before unlocking budget, and engaging them from the get go will help them personally invest in the project.


Wrapping Up


To successfully deliver innovation you need to think smart. Some of the best ideas haven’t got off the ground because brands have stumbled at one, or more, of the aforementioned barriers. 

If you’d like our advice on how to get started, progress or deliver an innovation project, please do get in touch